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Turn the World on With Your Smile

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Carolyn makes John and Cam see the base shrink. They're not going to be allowed to be on a gate team and go through the gate until they are pronounced ready. Cam goes four times and thinks he's making good progress, but then Dr Michaels says that he wants John and Cam to have a few joint sessions.

Cam hasn't spoken with John outside of debriefings since he raped him. He doesn't know what to say.

John shows up at Cam's apartment the night before the first joint session. He has a case of Sprite and a bag of chips.

"I figured you wouldn't know what to do tomorrow," John says, settling into the end of Cam's sofa. Cam sits on the chair. John grimaces. Cam had wondered why John hadn't been sent back to Atlantis yet, but now Cam realizes that this is a perfect opportunity for anyone who wants to remove John from his command. He wonders if anyone on Atlantis knows what happened to John, why his return to San Francisco has been delayed. Keeping John isolated from the people who care about him feels. . . cruel.

"You're going to coach me," Cam says slowly. "You figure the truth won't work?"

John shrugs and pops the top of his drink. "What truth is that?"

"That I," Can starts, and his throat feels like it's lined with duct tape, his words and his breath catching. "When we," and then he knows he's going to throw up. He makes it into the bathroom just in time to spew into the sink.

John scoots in behind him, making a face that Cam gets a glimpse of in the mirror, wetting a washcloth in the bathtub (because the sink is repulsive) and handing it to Cam.

"You need coaching," John says flatly. There's no arguing with that.

The third night John comes over is after their second more-or-less successful joint session. Cam's just starting to feel comfortable with the mixture of edited truths (there was nothing I could do) and painful emotional exploration (I've never felt so helpless) that Dr Michaels eats up with a spoon. It feels like theater, he tells John, angrily, while John's checking on the pizza in the oven.

"Look," Cam says, wanting to get a rise out of John, wanting to say something real, "I swing both ways, did you know that?" He takes a deep breath. "I like sleeping with guys," he adds, just to make that crystal clear.

"Okay," John says, looking like Cam just slapped him across the face. And then John walks out into Cam's living room and kills Cam's television, knocking it off the table and kicking it hard into the wall, wires ripping out, glass going all over, plastic parts spinning across the carpet.

John walks out and by the time he hits the sidewalk he's running, but Cam catches him two blocks down, grabbing John's arm and making him careen into a wall.

"Get your fucking hands off me," John shouts. Before all the therapy, Cam would have let go in an instant; now, he extorts a promise from John not to make a break for it, before he unwraps his hand. John cradles his wrist to his stomach, head down, breathing hard.

"Pizza's done," Cam offers.

John shakes his head. "Can't," he says, sounding like he's barely keeping the panic down.

"Do you need your pills or anything?" Cam asks. John rocks a little, but Cam can't figure if that's a yes or a no or a fuck you. "I'm going to ask you to try breathing with me," Cam says, trying to remember how Jolan had taught him. "The Sodan call this Lal hat tso. Start by breathing in through your nose, okay?"

The technique is supposed to drain away distractions so the practitioner can focus on taking down an enemy, but Cam figures he'll tell John that later. Maybe twenty, thirty minutes go by before John finally manages the breathing out tension part, but when he sags he sags hard. Cam manages to get John back to his apartment and tips him onto the sofa, boots and all. He gives John a bunch of blankets and mixes him up some of the powdered sports drink that's supposed to have good stuff in it. John falls asleep with the blankets pulled over his head. Cam falls asleep in the chair, watching him.

Cam wakes up to find John in the kitchen having beer for breakfast. He hasn't seen John drink since they got back, which he'd figured was because of the medicine he was taking, or because John knew if he started he wouldn't be able to stop easy.

"That your first?" he asks, opening the refrigerator and planting yogurt, milk, bread, blueberry jam, sliced ham, a pack of cherry tomatoes, and half of the leftover pizza down the center of the table.

John gives him an evil look. Cam yanks the other chair out from under John's propped-up feet and sits down, elbows on the table, leaning forward.

"Go tip that down the drain and come and have breakfast," Cam says. "I got eggs, too. Don't know if you like eggs."

"Eggs and beer?" John says, sounding repulsed, but he gets up and sticks the beer back in the fridge.

"Get some plates and maybe some spoons while you're up," Cam instructs.

John grabs whatever out of the drainer and whacks it all down on the table. "You're a bastard sometimes," he tells Cam.

"Yeah, I am," Cam agrees, and slides one of the plates over to build himself a ham sandwich.

It's a good day. John doesn't get drunk after all, and Cam lets John buy him a really nice new TV. They don't talk about anything more aggravating than football. Nobody falls apart. It almost feels like friends.

John gets cleared to go back to Atlantis. Cam jokes that he should throw John a going-away party, but it ends up just being the two of them, taking a drive into the mountains. They find a great overlook at the side of the road with picnic tables and everything.

John has to be an idiot and sit on the table, with his feet on the bench. He's snapping pictures on the digital camera he got when he bought the TV. He gets a couple candids of Cam where Cam looks really stupid. John refuses to delete them.

Then John says he wants to tell Cam something, and he wants Cam to listen, and when he's done he wants Cam to say Thanks for telling me and nothing else. Cam knows he won't like it, but he says sure, leaning back against the table and turning his face up to the sun. John tells him about the first time he was raped. Cam's eyes kind of burn, but when John's done Cam just says, "Thanks for telling me."

John goes and gets a couple Cokes out of the cooler in the car. When he comes back, he says, sounding a bit amazed, "Never told anyone that."

Cam looks at him sidelong. "Do you want me to say anything?"

John takes a deep breath, sighs it all out again, and then shakes his head. He sips his drink, looks out over the scenery, runs a hand through his hair. "Have you had sex since? Jerked off?"

"No," Cam says.

"It took me a while," John says. "Before. And some things. . . changed, after." He's the kind of still that implies he wants to be restless, wants to move, to run. "I don't mind that you're gay." Bi, Cam corrects. John shrugs. "Part of me was like --" John waves a hand, as if the words he wants are buzzing around him like mosquitoes.

"If I was straight I hated it as much as you did, if I was gay I liked it?" Cam suggests dryly. "That was the impression I got from you."

John doesn't really blush, but Cam can tell he's embarrassed by the pinch of his eyes and the way his shoulders tighten. "Push one for irrational kneejerk homophobia. Push two for inappropriate emotional garbage." He makes a face, mouth turning down and chin sticking out. "I know it was rape for you, too."

"Are you going to be okay?" Cam asks, deflecting. "On Atlantis."

John half-nods, half-shrugs. "I told Teyla. She gets it. Ronon'd probably get it, but if I told him I'd have to tell Rodney, too, fair's fair, and, well. Rodney."

"He'd probably blow up the whole planet," Cam says. "He hates me, but you and he're best buddies."

"He'd look at me weird," John says, and even though Cam sympathizes and was raised not to be (too much of) a dick, he still laughs really loud.

"He would," Cam says. "It would be beyond awkward. And somehow he'd make it all about him. He'd try and one-up you." He jabbed John in the leg with his elbow. "Then he'd blow shit up."

"Asshole," John says, and tries to kick. Cam shifts out of the way. "Can I ask you something?"

"Yeah," Cam says. "Go for it."

"If I wasn't in the Air Force," John starts, and Cam can see where this is going. "If none of it ever happened, and we met somewhere else, like. . . at a football game, or a bar. Would you look at me twice?"

"You're really not my type," Cam says, nice and easy. He doesn't say, If I had a choice, but he thinks it, and more than anything it makes him feel sad. Or maybe he can just let himself feel the sadness, now that he knows it won't drown him. "And I kind of don't think I'm yours."

"We're friends, though," John says, like he's really set on saying his bit, even though he hates exposing himself like this. "I'd blow stuff up for you, if I could." He takes a deep breath.

Cam puts a foot on the seat, boosts himself up to sit right up next to John. "Where I come from," he says, throwing an arm around John's shoulders, "them's huggin' words."

He doesn't expect John to hug back. Instead, John whips out his arm, holding the digital camera, and tells Cam to say cheese.

Later, when John's already left, Cam gets a copy of the picture in an e-mail. John's looking kind of squinty and Cam's got a goofy grin on his face. He prints out two copies, taping one inside his locker at work and putting one up on the bulletin board in his kitchen. He tells Vala and Daniel one night when he has them over for dinner. Vala gets choked up; Daniel says Thanks for telling us. Cam looks at the picture of John and thinks he should go and visit Atlantis, sometime soon.